OSCARS: VFX Nominees Discuss Key Sequences

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor

This year’s nominees show how visual effects have spread from summer blockbusters to genres as diverse as superheroes, different flavors of fantasy, more traditional sci-fi territory, and even the art-house film. For each nominee, there’s a moment that makes it worthy of an Oscar nomination. Here, the visual-effects supervisors on the nominated films break down the key challenges and talk about the sequence that clinched the nomination.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The nominees: Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White

No. of visual-effects shots: 2,176

Tech breakthrough: The complexity and number of techniques used to create the digital creatures. “It’s a combination of lots of things to get a creature to that point”, says Letteri. “It’s muscles, it’s skin, it’s facial capture, it’s performance capture”. All those things had to come together to bring to convincing life six leading digital characters with dialogue. Read More »

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‘The Avengers’ Cast To Present At Oscars

By | Wednesday February 6, 2013 @ 7:30am PST

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Marvel’s The Avengers cast mates Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo will present together on the Oscar stage, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.

“We are happy to re-unite the Avengers cast to present on our show,” said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Audiences who enjoyed the year’s biggest box office hit will be excited to see these terrific actors back together again.”

Read More »

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Ming-Na To Star In Joss Whedon’s ABC Pilot ‘Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.’

By | Wednesday October 24, 2012 @ 2:53pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Ming-Na S.H.I.E.L.D. CastingEXCLUSIVE: Joss Whedon has recruited ER alumna Ming-Na Wen for one of the leads in his ABC drama pilot Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., which he is co-writing and directing. The project, from Marvel TV and ABC TV Studios, is based on a peacekeeping group found in both the comic book and feature film universes, including the blockbuster 2012 movie The Avengers. Ming-Na will play Agent Melinda May. Soulful and slightly damaged by her combat experiences, Melinda is an ace pilot, a weapons expert and a soldier who can — and has — gone beyond the call of duty. The character was originally listed on the pilot’s casting breakdown as Agent Althea Rice, aka The Cavalry. Ming-Na is the second actor cast in S.H.I.E.L.D., joining Clark Gregg, who is reprising his Iron Man, Thor and Avengers role as Agent Phil Coulson. Read More »

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‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ Passes $1.5B Mark

By | Sunday September 2, 2012 @ 11:46am PDT

Given that the Walt Disney Co announced its $4 billion purchase of Marvel three years ago almost to the day, that price tag looks like a bargain after Summer 2012. Because Marvel’s The Avengers in its 19th week of … Read More »

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Comic-Con: Disney, Marvel Screen ‘Item 47′

By | Friday July 13, 2012 @ 9:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Disney and Marvel tonight hosted a fan screening of Item 47, the short film that will be a prelude to the September 25 DVD release of The Avengers. The screening was organized for fans, the culmination of a daylong Avengers and Item 47-themed scavenger hunt. Short was directed … Read More »

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Comic-Con: Joss Whedon Remains Undecided About ‘Avengers 2′

By | Friday July 13, 2012 @ 3:46pm PDT

Anthony D’Alessandro is a Deadline contributor.

Joss Whedon said today during a Comic-Con press conference for his series Firefly‘s 10-year anniversary that he hasn’t committed to making the sequel to Marvel’s The Avengers, this year’s massive Disney tentpole that he directed and co-wrote. “I have not come to a decision on directing Avengers 2 yet,” he said. “I am having too much fun with this (Firefly reunion) now.” The Marvel superhero pic is the third-highest-grossing movie of all time to date, and has racked up $612.3 million domestically and $1.46 billion worldwide, so having the architect back for a sequel is top of mind.

Related: Disney Passing $1B Domestic Box Office Read More »

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Marvel Planning ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Movie For 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy Movie2ND UPDATE 12:30 PM: Disney announced today that a ‘Marvel Untitled’ movie will be moved to August 1, 2014 after first being dated May 16, 2014. Now sources confirm to Deadline … Read More »

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Fandango Expects Best Quarter Ever

By | Monday July 2, 2012 @ 5:50pm PDT

Fandango Record EarningsThe online ticketer is poised to announce tomorrow that its second quarter was the best quarter in the company’s 12-year history, with ticket sales up 28% year over year and traffic up 26%. Mobile traffic is up 107% … Read More »

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‘Avengers’ Passing $600M Domestic Today

By | Tuesday June 26, 2012 @ 12:02pm PDT

Avengers Box OfficeAs of today, Marvel’s The Avengers is #3 domestically, #4 internationally, and #3 globally in terms of worldwide box office. And the Disney film still is yet to open in Japan, which takes place on … Read More »

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‘Marvel’s The Avengers #3 Film Of All Time

By | Saturday June 2, 2012 @ 9:00am PDT

This mega-blockbuster just keeps breaking box office records worldwide. Disney announced this morning that Marvel’s The Avengers became the third highest grossing film yesterday domestically passing The Dark Knight ($533M), and the third highest grossing … Read More »

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Does ‘The Avengers’ Illustrate How Marvel Will Make A Fortune For Disney?

This is becoming an interesting debate, which PDL Capital President Lawrence Meyers takes on this morning in a vigorously argued blog post responding to Bernstein Research analyst Todd Juenger’s controversial report last week on the subject. Juenger said that the huge success of The Avengers – which has generated $1.3B in ticket sales at worldwide box offices this month — merely makes Disney’s 2009 agreement to pay $4.2B for Marvel “a good deal,” not a self-evidently great one. That’s ”the silliest statement I’ve heard in years,” Meyers says. The value of Disney CEO Bob Iger’s decision “was self-evident the day the deal got made.” Juenger misses the point, Meyers says, by focusing on the probable returns from Marvel-related movies. The operation will “generate tens of billions for Disney over decades” as it comes up with new characters, and storylines to pair them. “Movies will be the flagship product, but there will be television shows (primarily animated), direct to video, and at some point in the future, they’ll just reboot each of the characters and start all over again,” Meyers says. “This literally will go on for decades. And audiences will keep paying.” Read More »

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‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ #9 All-Time Biggest

It’s still expected to be the #1 North American film for the third straight week. And now Marvel’s The Avengers currently stands as the #9 film of all time globally, passing Disney’s Alice In Wonderland and LucasFilm’s Star Wars Read More »

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‘AVENGERS’ SETS 2ND WEEKEND RECORD $103.2M – Still #1 Phenom For $1+B Global And Now 11th All-Time Biggest Moneymaker; Anemic ‘Dark Shadows’ Creeping To $28.8M

May 11-13 Weekend Actuals

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) Week 2 [4,349 Theaters] PG13
Friday $29.2M, Saturday $42.9M, Sunday $30.9M Weekend $103.1M (-50%), Cume $373.1M

2. Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) NEW [3,755 Theaters] PG13
Friday $9.7M, Saturday $10.8M, Sunday $9.2M Weekend $29.7M

3. Think Like A Man (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 4 [2,052 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.3M, Sunday $2.0M, Weekend $5.8M (-28%), Cume $81.4M

4. The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Week 8 [2,531 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.2M, Saturday $1.9M, Sunday $1.5M, Weekend $4.5M (-19%), Cume $387.0M

5. The Lucky One (Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,839 Theaters] PG13
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.6M, Sunday $1.2M, Weekend $4.1M (-24%), Cume $53.8M

6. Five-Year Engagement (Universal) Week 3 [2,569 Theaters] R
Friday $963K, Saturday $1.3M, Sunday $1.1M, Weekend $3.3M (-34%), Cume $24.6M

7. Pirates! Band of Misfits (Aardman/Sony) Week 3 [3,079 Theaters] PG
Friday $740K, Saturday $1.3M, Sunday $1.1M, Weekend $3.1M (-43%), Cume $23.0M

8. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) Week 2 (178 Theaters] PG13
Friday $672K, Saturday $1.1M, Sunday $919K, Weekend $2.7M (+263%), Cume $3.7M

9. Chimpanzee (Disneynature)  Week 4 [1,559 Theaters] G
Friday $386M, Saturday $617K, Sunday $752K, Weekend $1.8 (-46%), Cume $25.7M

10. Safe (Lionsgate) Week 3 [1,690 Theaters] R
Friday $387K, Saturday $554M, Sunday $506K Weekend $1.4M (-46%), Cume $15.7M

SUNDAY AM, 9TH UPDATE North American grosses came in exactly as expected. Marvel’s The Avengers from Disney broke $100M in its second weekend for the first time in movie history (beating Avatar‘s 75M). Saturday’s number is about $43.1M after Friday’s was $29.1M for an estimated weekend total of $103.2M with Sunday’s expected $30.9M. That’s down only 50% from its massive opening a week ago. The projected domestic cume now is $373.2M for its first 10 days of release. The international figure is $628.9M after adding $95.4M from overseas this weekend playing in almost every movie territory. Disney says Avengers will cross $1.002B worldwide Sunday. Yowza! That makes Avengers #11 on the all-time money making list, past The Dark Knight (not adjusted for premium ticket prices or inflation). And it should shoot up to #5 very quickly. It will be the first Marvel film and fifth Disney release to reach $1B.

Meanwhile there was no dramatic turnaround for Warner Bros’ Dark Shadows even though the comedic gothic thriller went up a decent 12% from Friday’s $9.7M to Saturday’s $10.9M in North America. That yielded only a disappointing $28.8M total for the weekend. “We played to an older audience. But I am hopeful we can can broaden our base over the next 2 weeks as the new films to come are not really in our wheelhouse,” a WB exec emailed me Sunday, adding. “Stay tuned… Our pulse is still strong.” On Sunday the studio came out with its day-and-date international numbers: $36.7M, including previews with 4.6M admissions from 5,664 screens in 42 territories. Becase of Avengers in the marketplace, Dark Shadow’s was #2 in many territories like Russia ($5.3M from 977 screens), Australia ($3.7M from 369 screens), Korea ($2.5M from 375 screens), Taiwan ($994K from 106 screens), and Hong Kong ($915K from 60 screens). It was #1 in France where Johnny Depp and his family reside ($4.6M from 474 screens), Spain ($2.4M from 341 screens), and Italy ($2.3M from 537 screens). The UK grossed $4.0M from 515 situations, while Germany took in $2.0M from 441 screens. Upcoming Releases: Japan (May 19), Brazil and Mexico (June 22).

Top Ten below.

SATURDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: How do you know your new movie is in trouble? When exhibitors want your pic to share supersized screens with your holdover rival that’s a mega-hit. Oops. Turns out Warner Bros felt it had no choice but to buckle under the theaters’ demands to extend Disney’s big screen run. So Warner Bros’  Dark Shadows is losing a morning show and an evening show to Marvel’s The Avengers every day from Friday until May 25. Warner Bros insisted to me this will be revenue neutral because some large-screen venues were added for the staggered showtimes. But the two pics also are competing overseas. Disney thinks $1B is possible worldwide through Sunday for Avengers which is playing almost everywhere. Meanwhile Dark Shadows is eking out its big international debut this weekend in 42 major markets except Japan, Brazil, and Mexico. The comedic gothic thriller earned $770,000 in France where Depp and his family reside. But the studio’s new vampire sendup of the vintage TV daytime soap is a disappointment at the North American box office. Its audiences gave it only a ‘B-’ CinemaScore, and 61% of top film critics panned it.

This 8th re-teaming of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton suffered weeks of soft tracking ahead of time, mostly because Avengers sucked all the air out of this month’s films trying to get pre-release attention. (Interestingly, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Paramount laugher The Dictator and Universal’s Battleship also are tracking softer than expected before their openings this month. And not for lack of awareness…) Dark Shadows opened by making a so-so $550K during midnight screenings from 1,600 locations overnight. But it didn’t draw blood from 3,755 theaters later, either. instead it was creeping out of the gate with only about $9.7M Friday for at best a $28M weekend – unless Saturday picks up.  Even though adaptations from TV to film generally perform modestly, Dark Shadows was predicted to earn a minimum of $35M — which is feeble considering the pic’s budget was a costly $150M-$175M. But it should have opened to at least a $40M-$50M weekend with the popular Depp-Burton push that last sent Alice In Wonderland grosses soaring past $1B worldwide for Disney. Warner Bros attempted to counterprogram Avengers with Depp’s Barnabas Collins — who awakens in 1972 after being imprisoned in a coffin for 200 years, complete with fish-out-of-water jokes and an over-the-top sex scene — hoping to snag women of all ages. But the strategy backfired when Avengers turned into a four-quadrant monster.

Yes, the biggest North American movie is getting still bigger and still setting records. Playing very wide with 4,349 theaters, The Avengers looks like around $29.1M for Friday and approaches a gargantuan $100M second weekend. This will be far-and-away the highest second domestic weekend in box office history (passing Avatar‘s and The Dark Knight‘s $75M records). That means the holdover will drop only 53% after its record-setting opening. Coming into Friday Avengers was scooping up 75% of all tickets sales at online MovieTickets.com. Disney says its  superhero worldwide juggernaut will cross $300M domestic on Saturday in a record of only 9 days. (The previous record was 10 days.) Through Sunday its domestic haul should be around $355M.  So what’s the total overseas so far?  Its international gross is $533.3M for a global cumulative of $888.3M.

Related: ‘AVENGER’ ACTUALS: $654.8M Weekend = $207.4M Record Domestic, $447.4M Foreign

Burton was a devoted fan of the original ABC gothic soap Dark Shadows when he was a schoolboy, while Depp long obsessed about reimagining the vampire role made famous by Jonathan Frid (who filmed a cameo before he died). Depp and his Infinitum Nihil producing partner Christi Dembrowski had a first-look deal with Graham King’s GK Films. So the two companies produced Dark Shadows along with Dick Zanuck who now has six collaborations with Burton under his belt.

But it was co-star Helena Bonham Carter who sounded the alarm when she predicted that Dark Shadows was “going to be impossible to sell. It’s very original and it’s kind of uncategorizable” So Warner Bros positioned the pic “as a fun, wildly original vampire story as only Tim Burton and Johnny Depp can,” an exec tells me. “In addition to the humor and pedigree, we focused on the stellar cast, the gothic fantasy element, and the bold originality born from this incredible creative collaboration.” The studio had been trying for several years to pull together this movie adaptation. It purchased the film rights to the TV series from the estate of Dan Curtis (the creator, producer and director of Dark Shadows). John August was the first writer hired to script Tim Burton’s project. And Seth Grahame-Smith, who made his Hollywood entry writing novels that put a macabre twist to literary classics and historical figures, wrote the new draft.

Given the film’s tight production schedule because Depp is so much in demand, the concentrated marketing campaign kicked off with a very aggressive trailer schedule throughout March on movies from 21 Jump Street to The Hunger Games. TV ads kicked off with an early burst on NCAA Finals and notable placements like the Mad Men premiere as well as select network finales and NBA playoffs. Online Burton and Depp collaborated on an original featurette, while the studio came up with a Barnabas-style curse generator. Johnny Depp went on Ellen for the first time, while the event premiere had a live performance from Alice Cooper. “The quirky charm of the picture was present in all aspects of our campaign,” an exec told me. Now the studio is hoping that Dark Shadows can save itself through some staying power.

Other news is that Fox Searchlight’s specialty film Best Exotic Marigold Hotel jumped into the #8 spot despite playing in only 178 venues. The upscale drama had a per screen average of $15K. And Lionsgate’s coming-of-age dramedy Girl In Progress opened in 10th place with just 322 theaters. Overall, the weekend is looking like $170M or up +21% from last year.

Here’s the Top Ten (based on weekend estimates):

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (Disney) Week 2 [4,349 Theaters] PG13
Friday $29.1M, Saturday $43.1M, Weekend $103.2M (-50%), Cume $373.2M
International Weekend $95.4M, Int’l Cume $628.9M, Global Cume $1.2B

2. Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) NEW [3,755 Theaters] PG13
Friday $10.5M, Saturday $10.9M, Weekend $28.8M Read More »

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Marvel’s Kevin Feige On Next 5 Films: Video

By | Saturday May 12, 2012 @ 8:58pm PDT

During the continuing phenom that is The Avengers, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talks with Bloomberg’s Carol Massar on the Disney lot in Burbank. He discusses the company’s future movies including Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and two others he says they haven’t announced yet. Regarding … Read More »

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Disney’s Robert Iger Nets $26.6M On Sale Of Stock: Bloomberg

By | Saturday May 12, 2012 @ 1:20pm PDT

Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Robert Iger this week exercised stock options that netted an estimated $26.6 million in profit, Bloomberg reports. The sale of 1.8 million shares worth $81.6 million took place Thursday, according to an … Read More »

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Big Media Q1 Corporate Earnings Roundup: How Long Will The Good Times Roll?

By | Saturday May 12, 2012 @ 6:47am PDT

Big Media companies in the Q1 earnings season that wrapped this week reminded me of Garrison Keilor’s description of the kids in Lake Woebegon: Virtually everybody was above average, at least when measured against analysts’ expectations. Media stocks began to trade ahead of the overall market as Q1 reports spread their cheery results. But CEO presentations to analysts left me thinking that companies simply had a good quarter. With just a few exceptions — Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen comes to mind — they seemed as complacent as ever about the need for bold initiatives to reinvigorate their maturing businesses. Movie theaters still aren’t addressing the long-term declines in ticket sales. Studios still don’t know what to do about their evaporating DVD sales. Networks appear flummoxed by the general decline in their ratings. And most pay TV distributors can’t imagine anything besides marketing gimmicks that might enable them to proactively boost subscriptions. In order to beat the Street’s earnings expectations, several companies relied on unsustainable gambits. They cut costs, raised prices, and enjoyed the fruits of conveniently timed licensing deals with digital streaming services including Netflix and Amazon. It sounded like they’re hoping that they can keep coming up with new tricks, and that they’ll be bailed out by continuing growth in the overall economy, which remains vulnerable to shocks including a possible worsening of the European debt crisis. Read More »

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‘AVENGER’ ACTUALS: $654.8M Weekend = $207.4M Record Domestic, $447.4M Foreign

By | Monday May 7, 2012 @ 12:22pm PDT

MONDAY 12:15 PM, 4TH UPDATE: Here are Monday’s actuals. Disney today announced that Marvel’s The Avengers in just three days was the fastest movie to reach $200 million domestically and posted the biggest domestic opening weekend of all … Read More »

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‘Marvel’s The Avengers’: Records & Factoids

By | Sunday May 6, 2012 @ 1:01pm PDT

· Biggest domestic opening weekend of all time.

· Fastest film to reach $200M (3 days).

· Highest Saturday of all time: $69.7M.

· 8th biggest midnights opening.

· Biggest superhero midnights debut.

· Passed domestic totals for Captain America and Thor.

· Passed international box office totals of Captain America ($192M), Iron Man ($266.7M), Thor ($268.3M), and Iron Man Read More »

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IMAX Ran Out Of Seats To Sell ‘Avengers’

By | Sunday May 6, 2012 @ 12:03pm PDT

IMAX grossed $21.1+M worldwide this weekend for 3D superhero actioner Marvel’s The Avengers bringing its global IMAX cume to approximately $31.2M through Sunday night. IMAX Avengers brought in $6.1 mil internationally (which includes an amazing first day gross in China of $1.1M) … Read More »

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